History of ATD at NOVA

NOVA joined Achieving the Dream (ATD) in 2007 and assembled a core team and campus teams. Through ATD, NOVA has been at the forefront of several initiatives, hosted several professional development events and presented at national conferences. In 2010, ATD designated NOVA as a Leader College for having “shown three years of sustained student success improvement.

NOVA has implemented several major interventions to help students achieve success. Please visit our Current Initiatives page for our active practices.

Past Initiatives:

  1. Learning Communities: In an effort to improve persistence and student success, NOVA introduced Learning Communities as a curricular option. Learning Communities combine the content of two or more courses and enroll a common cohort of students in the linked classes. Faculty work on shared assignments and learning opportunities with the goal of building community and fostering connections among students, between students and professors, and within disciplines.
  2. GPS for Success: Designed for first-time-to-college students aged 17 to 24, GPS for Success focuses on teaching academic planning and self-evaluation skills through mandatory, case management-style academic advising. The two-tiered model combines intensive professional advising throughout the first year of matriculation followed by a transition to a faculty advisor, typically during the second term of enrollment.
  3. Start Strong Initiative: NOVA’s Start Strong initiative puts students on the right pathway to academic success. To provide a solid foundation, the College implemented six new policies for all first-time-to-college students aged 17 to 24:
    1. Take placement tests before registration.
    2. Attend Student Orientation before registration.
    3. Meet with an advisor before registration.
    4. Enroll in developmental courses (English and/or math) during the first semester, if placed.
    5. Complete a College Success Skills (SDV 100 or 101) course within the first year.
    6. Meet the On-Time Registration requirement.
  4. New Student Orientation: During Student Orientation, students develop an academic goal, meet with a first-year advisor, create a class schedule, register for courses, and learn about payment options and financial aid. Student Orientation leaders also provide information about student resources and activities and offer campus tours. Student Orientation is required for all first-time-to-college students aged 17 to 24, and online orientation is available for distance learners.
  5. Revision of Student Development (SDV) Course: Student success courses at community colleges have been shown to improve student achievement and persistence. Called College Success Skills (SDV 100 or 101) at NOVA, the course has been revised extensively over the last four years to include a common syllabus and course template that ensures uniform quality and attention to student learning objectives. In addition to focusing on College policies and procedures, the course helps students develop skills for academic success, self-management and decision making.
  6. Developmental English Redesign: NOVA’s Developmental English courses were redesigned as part of the Virginia Community College System (VCCS) initiative to integrate reading and writing instruction and move students into college-level English more quickly. Through collaboration between faculty and the tutoring and writing centers, assistance is available inside and outside the classroom to help students succeed in these intensive courses.
  7. Developmental Math Redesign: With a grant from the National Center for Academic Transformation, Developmental Math courses have been redesigned based on the principle that students learn math by doing math. The redesign utilizes an Emporium Model where students progress through modules using interactive computer programs, providing them with the necessary skills to be successful in their credit-level math courses. Faculty and tutors provide students with individualized assistance.
  8. Working Student Success Network (WSSN): WSSN was developed from a three year grant that NOVA received from the Achieving the Dream organization. WSSN aims to help students not only complete certificates and degrees, but also develop financial skills and connect their credentials to jobs that pay family-sustaining wages. With the goal of addressing barriers to student success, WSSN provides NOVA students with easy access to community and financial resources, free tax preparation services, financial support during mid-semester emergencies, financial coaching services, employment support and much more. WSSN was implemented at NOVA in 2014 and services to students continue to increase as awareness grows. Following the end of the grant, NOVA fully adopted the program and is now known as the Financial Stability Program.